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Category : Mechanics

Verb Tenses

Verb is one of the most important parts of a sentence. It conveys the action part of a sentence – come, go, sit, stand, dance, write, read, run, climb etc. Tense is the form with which the verb must be presented in a sentence.

Examples:

I go home.

I’m going home.

I have gone home.

I have been going home.

I went home.

I was going home.

I had gone home.

I had been going home.

I will go home.

I will be going.

I will have gone home.

I will have been going home.

Notice here that the word “go” is being used in 12 different forms in order to convey 12 different meanings. All of these 12 forms emerge from the three basic tenses of the verb “go”:

Go (present tense), went (past tense), and gone (past participle) or,

Go (simple tense), went (past tense), and will go (future tense)

Let’s take another set of examples and identify the 12 verb tenses accordingly:

She breaks her hand –Simple Present Tense

She is breaking her hand — Present Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action in the present tense)

She has broken her hand — Present Perfect Tense (suggests a completed action in the present tense)

She has been breaking her hand — Present Perfect Continuous (suggest an ongoing action to be completed in the present tense)

She broke her hand — Simple Past Tense

She was breaking her hand — Past Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action in the past tense)

She had broken her hand — Past Perfect Tense (suggests a completed action in the past tense)

She had been breaking her hand — Past Perfect Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action to be completed in the past tense)

She will break her hand — Simple Future Tense

She will be breaking her hand — Future Continuous Tense ((suggests an ongoing action in the future tense)

She will have broken her hand — Future Perfect Tense ((suggests a completed action in the future tense)

She will have been breaking her hand — Future Perfect Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action to be completed in the future tense).

Unless it is a grammar school, not many English speaking people bother about identification of tenses. Their usage comes naturally with the fluency of the language.

Irregular Verbs

Verbs are one of the most identifiable parts of a sentence and one can cite an endless number of examples for verbs.  There are three basic parts of a verb:

i)                    Present Tense

ii)                   Past Tense, and

iii)                 Future Tense

Examples:

Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle
smile smiled smiled
found founded founded
look looked looked
climb climbed climbed
sleep slept slept

Note that the first four examples for past tense in the above table are derived by adding an “ed” to their respective present tenses. In the last example, however, the past tense of “sleep” does not follow a similar pattern. The correct word is “slept,” and not “sleeped”. Verbs that do not follow a regular “ed” pattern to become past tense are called Irregular Verbs. Such verbs do not have any set pattern for past tense or its past participle.

There are plenty of examples for irregular verbs:

Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle
teach taught taught
win won won
wake woke woken
throw threw thrown
cut cut cut
tear tore torn
come came come
rise rose risen
set set set
beat beat beaten
stand stood stood
tread trod trodden
fight fought fought
see saw seen
become became become
do did done
tell told told
fall fell fallen
swear swore sworn
slide slid slid
write wrote written
begin began begun
bite bit bitten
strike struck stricken
bear bore borne
choose chose chosen
drive drove driven
ring rang rung
run ran run
wed wed wed
burst burst burst
thrive throve thrived
weave wove woven
sink sank sunk
find found found
hit hit hit
deal dealt dealt
get got got/ gotten
give gave given

That vs. Which

The difference between the words — `that’ and `which’ — is rather subtle. Both are used to address a subject in a sentence. Since there is no exact distinction between the two, many choose to use them according to practice. Traditionally, however, there are some marked differences between the two.

The word `which’ (unlike `that’) — is a non-restrictive clause, often used in a more general sense — it does not limit or restrict the meaning of the subject it refers to in a sentence. Example: Dogs, which are also called “A man’s best friend”, are very faithful. While `which’ is followed by a comma, there is no comma usage following `that’ in a sentence.

Whereas, the word “that” is a restrictive clause with definite reference to the word preceding it in the sentence. Example: “The brown dog that was barking all night was the most dangerous of all.”

Although many feel using either of the words for any given context in a sentence is permissible, a wrong usage can completely alter the meaning of the sentence.

Consider the following: “Hardy’s house that is on the seaside is beautiful.”

Using `that’ as a restrictive clause in this sentence gives out a meaning that Hardy has many houses and the one that is close to the beach (only) is beautiful.  Here, `that’ has definite reference to the subject.

Whereas, “Hardy’s house, which is on the seaside, is beautiful.” The usage of `which’ in this sentence gives out a meaning that Hardy’s house is beautiful. So even if the non-restrictive `which’ is removed from this sentence, the essential meaning of the sentence is not lost: Hardy’s house, which is on the seaside, is beautiful.

Correct usage of the words `that’ and `which’ can add a lot of clarity to your sentence. However, if the subject in the sentence is a person or people, then the words `that’ or `which’ must be replaced by `who’ or `whom’.